Volunteers make up the bulk of UGM’s case management teams. At the men’s shelter, that’s Joe, DuWayne, Howard, Roy, Dennis, Greg and Dana – all mature Christian men between the ages of 54 and 78 - under the supervision of Dan McLellan, UGM Guest Services Manager.
Dan provides the overall direction for the team modeled on this quote by Warren Wiersbe: “Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God.”
Joe, Howard, Roy, Dennis, Greg and Dana might be considered both the divine resources and the loving channels. They walk alongside men with very real needs, discipling and directing.
Within the first month of arriving at UGM, men are assigned a case manager to begin to address the underlying causes of their homelessness. Each volunteer handles a caseload of 15 men – more or less as men transition out of the shelter or into one of UGM’s long-term programs.
Howard said his initial meeting with men is mostly about listening, hearing their stories. Many of them haven’t had someone really listen for a long time. From there, the interview moves to physical health, employment history, and what they need to move forward in their lives. This initial assessment can range from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the guest, the volunteer, and the issues at hand.
Building trust, listening and encouraging is key to helping men restore their dignity and begin to rebuild their lives. But all of that takes time. Lots of time. Tracking down each of their 15 men and meeting with them on a regular basis is something UGM could not accomplish without this dedicated team of volunteers.
At the same time, Dennis said, serving in this way has been a tremendous blessing to him. “I find that I get a lot of benefit out of being here because I can’t be cynical…I have to be honest. I pray every day that God will allow me to open up to them and not be so judgmental as I am in my personal life.”
Greg agreed: “This is the best job I’ve ever had. I’ve been an engineer. I’ve been a broker. I’ve been a banker. [Now,] being retired, I’m doing something from the heart.”